all credits: South Wales Guardian
published: 11th January 2012
The High Court is to rule on a challenge by the BBC over a Government refusal to allow it to film and broadcast an interview with a terror suspect detained in the UK for more than seven years without trial. Babar Ahmad, a 37-year-old British Muslim, is being held under controversial extradition laws as he fights removal to the US, where he is wanted for allegedly raising funds for Chechen and Afghan insurgents over the internet.
He strongly denies any involvement with terrorism.
He is being held in a special detainee unit at Long Lartin Prison, Worcestershire, waiting for the European Court of Human Rights to rule on whether he should be extradited.
The BBC and home affairs correspondent Dominic Casciani are challenging Justice Secretary Ken Clarke’s continuing refusal to allow Ahmad to be interviewed face-to-face while in detention.
Judges were told the Ministry of Justice had initially granted permission for a meeting at Long Lartin but then withdrew the offer after the corporation argued the interview should be filmed.
Mr Clarke’s lawyers argue that the Government’s general policy of refusing permission for prisoners to give live interviews is a “necessary and legitimate” interference with prisoner’s rights.
The BBC contends Mr Clarke’s stance is “disproportionate and irrational” and should be quashed because it breaches Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects freedom of expression.
Lord Justice Hooper and Mr Justice Singh will give their decision at the High Court in London.